Hero Training 101: Settling Into Being Unsettled

Hero Training 101Prior to leaving the Big Smoke we spent some time ‘hanging out’ with our pal Brian Johnson.

Philosopher extraordinaire and the mastermind behind Optimize —an online portal that delivers more wisdom in less time— Brian is inspiration on steroids.

If you’re as lazy as I am, you’ll love Brian’s minimalist approach to getting better at life.

Hero Training 101

In his Hero Training 101 seminar —which is based on Joseph Campbell’s well known book The Hero’s Journey and features the fascinating documentary Finding Joe— Brian emphasizes the importance of getting really comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Agreeing to ‘house sit’ a permaculture farm was the start of our ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable’ journey and the ride has just been getting progressively bumpier and more fun as we go.

Ed: This is the second post in our Hero Training 101 series. These are the others:

Along with the self-imposed discomfort, we’re also discovering the need to settle into being unsettled. Apparently uncubicling and untethering oneself is not as straightforward as one might think.

Or maybe it is and one is just being a wuss? I’m not exactly sure.

Either way, from our current standpoint, preparing for minimalism 2.0 was the easy part. It’s coming to terms with the fact that our routine is no longer dictated solely by us, that’s left our knickers in a bit of a knot.

With three hound dogs that need daily walks and summertime temperatures in the upper twenties (celsius) by seven o’clock in the morning, a little bobbing and weaving is called for.

The reason we decided to become house-sitters in the first place was so we wouldn’t become those annoying old people who refuse to do anything even remotely out of the ordinary.

It sounds simple enough, but it’s actually trickier to avoid than you might imagine. Routine has a nasty habit of morphing from something beneficial into a noose around your neck.

One day you’re all about meditating every morning and the next you’re turning down free theatre tickets because you have to be home in time to watch Sewende Laan.

That’s just an example by the way, we’re definitely not daytime soap kinda gals. Okay, maybe we used to be, but that was before the Internet so it doesn’t count.

If we don’t learn to roll with the punches (to continue with the boxing metaphors) our mission to age gracefully is going to end in the Zimmer frame department at Dischem.

Continuing on Our Hero’s Journey

settling into being unsettled

We’re about a month into our new way of life and we’re doing mostly okay. We haven’t lost our sense of humour (or our shit), we didn’t burn down the farm, the garden was green and lush when we left it and the chickens were all alive.

On the downside, we did pick up a bit of a wine habit in the process. Which, coupled with a local delicacy called roosterkoek —literal translation: grill cake— resulted in our pants shrinking a little.

I’m happy to announce, however, that we’re back on the health wagon and haven’t had a single glass of Shiraz all week. Plus, we haven’t tried to replace it with something else, like Oreos, either.

Can I have a high five please? 

[Tweet “”Opportunities to find deeper powers come when life seems most challenging.” —Joseph Campbell”]

Figuring out the Fundamentals (Again)

hero training 101

In retrospect, the wheels came off the minute we ditched our fundamentals (the habits that keep us smiling) in lieu of instant gratification. I say ‘in retrospect’ like it came as a surprise, but we knew full well what we were doing.

The truth is, we were caught off-guard by how under-prepared we were for dealing with our new ‘homeless’ life. We assumed we’d slip right into it with ease purely because we’d been working towards this goal for a while.

Turns out, just because you decide you want something, doesn’t mean the transition won’t still require a little planning and forethought. You actually have to work at this stuff if you want it to work.

Who’da thunk it?

Luckily for us, we’ve got Brian Johnson and his Optimize genius to help us get back on track. We actually had every intention of continuing our Hero Training 101 on the farm, but the wifi in those parts just wasn’t up for the challenge.

House-Sitting Lessons (So Far)

hero training 101

Make the Space Your Own ASAP

It’s about nesting. Unpack your things and make the place your own to whatever extent you’re able. Knowing where your stuff is can be surprisingly useful when it’s late and you need to brush your teeth, but it’s also good for your mental wellbeing. Even if you don’t want a home, you still want your digs to feel homey.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

This is good advice anyway when you’re in a relationship, but it’s even more important when you’re house-sitting together. We quickly figured out that Sporty would keep the garden and chickens alive and I would do the housework and make sure the pool didn’t turn into a sludge fest.

Look for the Learning

Life has a habit of constantly dishing up lessons. Choosing to ignore them usually means missing out on an opportunity to learn and grow. Unfortunate, but also not the end of the world.

When you’re house-sitting, looking for the lesson in every challenge is what keeps you sane. We realised this early on and it definitely helped us to not lose our shit when things got tough.

If It Was Easy It Wouldn’t Be Worth It

We’re all about instant gratification. At least, we used to be when we lived in the city and everything fun was right on our doorstep or an Uber ride away. Living off the grid helped us appreciate the benefits of delayed gratification.

When you have to walk two hours to town you think long and hard about whether or not that bottle of wine is really worth the effort.

It totally was, I’m just saying.

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  1. You two are brilliant you really are! Is there a suggestion of gritted teeth in the photo above Ang? Three hounds to walk in blazing sunshine huh? Have you asked them if they want walkies in the heat? Let’s face it, they can’t tell tales on you to their owners can they?! If it were me, any walks would be taken at 6.00 in the morning, and 10.00 at night! Well, you are certainly learning how to age disgracefully – good for you both. I hope you have good sunglasses and sunhats?

    1. Ha ha ha Susan, you made me laugh. There may have been a slight suggestion of gritted teeth, but I’m not confirming or denying. Early morning walks mean we miss out on exercise, so we just suck it up and do it in the afternoon. Unless we have work and then we shift things around. We have excellent sunblock, hats, etc. and we’re learning to age disgracefully! 😉

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